Nov. 2, 2006

Q. Two years ago you were a sophomore, you went to the Bowl game. Amidst the coaching changes, I wonder what that experience was like for you, and you must wonder what the North Carolina players are going through at the present time?

Travis Thomas: Well, when you find out what they’re feeling, they’re in a state of flux initially, but obviously, if you look at their last game against Wake Forest, it was the best game to date.

So I can imagine they want to win out for the coach and play hard, and I imagine they’ll play even harder come Saturday.

Q. It was a different Saturday because Coach Willingham wasn’t around for Saturday, but what was that experience like preparing for a Bowl game?

Travis Thomas: I mean, it was pretty much the same for us. The coaches that were there handled it well, and we wanted to win. So North Carolina wants to do the same, and come in here and win.

Q. When you talk about the pace of the triple option now that you’ve experienced it, what was that like?

Travis Thomas: It was different. I think that’s the best way to describe it.

Q. Tougher than you anticipated? Quicker than you anticipated? How long did it take for you to get accustomed to the speed of it?

Travis Thomas: A couple plays, I guess. That’s all.

Q. I know that you’ve said offense, defense, it doesn’t matter, as long as you get to the next level of play. But have you reached a point defensively where you are as comfortable as you were offensively? And if not, when would you anticipate getting to that level of comfort?

Travis Thomas: I feel pretty comfortable where I’m at. You know, obviously I feel more comfortable every game. I’m just working on fundamentals and techniques to get better as if I would have never made that change, so I feel good.

Q. A little while ago I asked Coach about the young running backs, and I said, “When they get a little bit more into the flow of things, do you envision Travis maybe playing defense?” And initially he said, “Yeah, I could see that,” and then he’s kind of changed his mind and said, “I’d like to see him play both.” What are your thoughts about the whole situation? Are you pretty happy that you’re doing both?

Travis Thomas: I think the more the merrier is how I feel. The more I can contribute in any aspect of the game, that’s all I’m for. And I’m here to win. The more I can help the team, that’s what I’m here for.

Q. How difficult is it doing both things? Obviously you did the running back thing for a long time, but how difficult is it from a stamina standpoint and from the mental standpoint?

Travis Thomas: Stamina standpoint I think I held up pretty well, better than I expected. I’ve been pleased with how I’ve held up. Mentally it was a challenge initially. The defense is very complex. But with the help of Coach Minter and the veteran players around me, they made the transition easy for me.

Q. How about the move from weak side to strong side linebacker? What’s the most difficult thing about that adjustment?

Travis Thomas: Actually I think it’s a little bit easier. The more difficult thing is just taking on those big guys every single play. You’re on the line so it’s a different technique, but it’s just football.

Q. You mentioned taking on the big guys. I mean, right away was that something you were able to do? Did it take you a few downs? Did it take you a game?

Travis Thomas: Obviously any time you go into a new position there’s things you need to work on. It was an adjustment for me as a whole.

Q. How about the ribs and so forth? The rest get you to a point where you feel pretty good about that situation?

Travis Thomas: Everything feels good, so there’s no issue there.

Q. And another thing Coach Weis mentioned, he said, “When people come in to look at you for the next level, they say, ‘Where does he belong?'” And he kind of says, “Take your pick.” What are your thoughts? Where do you think your future is, or do you even know? Do you have a preference?

Travis Thomas: I mean, I love running back. That’s something I like to do. But it doesn’t matter. I mean, I just want to play. That’s the thought process I came in here with, Let me get on the field and make things happen and help the team win. That’s what I’m trying to do now, help the team win.

Q. Coach Weis mentioned that some guys, some running backs, just like contact, prefer almost initiating it at times. You didn’t have that opportunity Saturday; you had a nice clean hole. But would you prefer that somebody is in your way most of the time?

Travis Thomas: No, I would not prefer that. I don’t look for contact. If it gets in my way, then I’ll address it the way I need to, either avoid it or try to inflict a punishment on him, but I don’t look for it.

Q. Was that your running style in high school, or as you got bigger and stronger did you that become your style the longer you were here?

Travis Thomas: I think I evolved into it. I mean that my role here: You know, a short yardage, red zone type of guy. In high school I was slender, faster type of build, so I was more shifty and quicker and better in space, so it just changed as things went on.

Q. You mentioned the evolution of that. Is that something you planned? Was that natural body maturity? How did that evolution happen?

Travis Thomas: I think my body just grew, and the framework I’m in now is just the role that Coach Weis sees me in. Like I said before, wherever I can help the team win and contribute is my goal. Whatever my role is week to week, I’ll adjust to it.

Q. Do you feel like playing the strong side you’ll need to continue to get bigger, or do you think you’re at a pretty good weight right now?

Travis Thomas: I think the coaches think I’m fine. I’m holding up fine there. If I get bigger, I get bigger. Your goal is always to get stronger, so that’s something I work on in the weight room. So I work with the strength, as well.

Q. Are you about 218?

Travis Thomas: Around that. That’s pretty accurate.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about ?? there are three captains on this football team. Do you guys have sort of regular captains’ meetings, or is it when somebody sees something that needs to be addressed you get the other two together?

Travis Thomas: Could you repeat that?

Q. With three captains on the team, you, Tom and Brady, do you have regular captains’ meetings, or if an issue comes up you’ll get together and talk about it?

Travis Thomas: We’re all together. We represent three aspects of the team, but when you put us together we’re still Notre Dame as one. We address things as a whole and try to keep things in perspective and try to keep everyone going in the right direction.

Q. Can you talk a little bit about what Tom brings to that mix? He’s certainly well?known as kind of a unique personality on the team?

Travis Thomas: He definitely brings leadership. He brings a sense of urgency. He brings a serious type of mentality when he comes to the field, sort of like what he carries in the ring. It’s definitely a good addition for us.

Q. How much did the defense miss him when he was hurt? How much of an impact does he have in terms of personality because I know that his replacement played well and you guys kind of kept going? But how much did you miss his presence on the field?

Travis Thomas: His replacement has done really well, but obviously when you’ve got a great player like that you just miss their presence out there on the field. I think there’s a sense of security you feel with Brady, myself and him. When we’re not there, I think that’s gone. But we have guys on this team that can step in and not miss a beat.